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Balancing Act of Increasing US Oil Production While Cutting Emissions Will Require Tech Savvy

USA News Group – Soaring gas prices and threats to energy security have forced the US government to embrace domestic fossil fuels, just one year after pledging to restrict drilling on public lands and launching an ambitious clean energy agenda. As oil producers in petroleum hubs like Texas prepare to increase production, activists are voicing their concern over the potentially higher emissions that could follow. Finding an acceptable balance for domestic production and emissions will likely require innovation and prudence from the oil sector, with recent developments coming from oil tech, energy service providers and producers, such as Petroteq Energy, Inc. (OTC:PQEFF), Delek US Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:DK), Vertex Energy Inc. (NASDAQ:VTNR), ChampionX Corporation (NASDAQ:CHX), and NexTier Oilfield Solutions Inc. (NYSE:NEX).

One of the newer technologies being developed that could potentially impact US production is by Petroteq Energy, Inc.’s (OTC:PQEFF) Clean Oil Recovery Technology (CORT) process which has been proven capable of producing oil from oil sands without the use of water, nor producing wastewater nor tailings ponds.

The CORT system utilizes a conventional sand dryer modified for service with petrochemical solvents in a closed loop. A combined unit has been proposed as a turnkey system to handle as much as 8,000 tons of sand per day with a target of EPA Tier 1 quality for the resulting sand.

Petroteq recently updated and completed the design using this proprietary oil-extraction and remediation technology for a planned oil sands extraction plant, capable of handling 5,000 barrels per day with partners Valkor, LLC.

Back in February, Petroteq announced a third-party cash flow analysis prepared by Broadlands, focused on the markets available for the sale of the three categories of by-product sands.

Broadlands noted that an extraction plant producing 5,000 bpd could (as estimated by Petroteq) be capable of yielding 6,000 tons of sand per day or 1,860,000 tons per year (based on 310 operating days per year and operating 24 hours per day), and that silica flour is postulated to be 15% of the saleable product, fracking quality sand 55%, and bulk sand 30%.

The analysis returned a base case NPV of $1.285 billion, $602 million, and $341 million, based on a pre-income tax basis, at discount rates of 0.0, 7.5 and 15%, respectively.

CORT’s economic prospects drew the interest of ESG-focused equity firm Viston United Swiss AG, which is now in the process of a takeover attempt that had a deadline of April 14, 2022.

Viston has offered Petroteq shareholders a premium price valuation of approximately 279% over the closing price of the Common Shares on the TSX Venture Exchange on August 6, 2021, and a 1,032% premium to the 52-week volume weighted average trading price on the TSX-V prior to the offer originally made in April 2021, before the Canadian shares were halted. The offer itself is valued at a considerable premium over the market price, with a 100% all-cash consideration of ‎C$0.74 ‎per common share.

Meanwhile, Petroteq’s US shares continue to trade on the OTC under the PQEFF symbol, shares of Petroteq closed at approximate US$0.37 (C$0.465) on April 13, 2022. At that price point, the C$0.74 (US$0.59) still represents a nearly 60% premium over the more current trading price.

"Our advances in engineering work exemplify our intentions to continue to operate the Company toward future expansion and revenue growth, regardless of the on-going offer from Viston United Swiss AG,” added Podlipsky. “Management will continue to handle business as usual and make utmost efforts to enhance shareholder value."

So far, Viston’s offer has been favorably received by the entire Petroteq team, with unanimous intention to tender shares from the Board of Directors, the company’s Founder, Former Chairman and CEO Alex Blyumkin, and one of the company’s largest shareholders, Cantone Asset Management, LLC.

Newly formed DKL Delaware Gathering LLC, a subsidiary of Delek US Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:DK), is set to acquire the equity interests of privately held 3Bear Delaware Holding-NM LCC for $624.7 million. The move expands Delek’s footprint into the northern part of the Permian Basin, by taking on 3Bear’s crude oil and natural gas gathering, processing and transportation businesses, as well as water disposal and recycling operations in the New Mexico portion of the Delaware sub-basin.

“The 3Bear management team has developed strong producer relationships and a world-class asset base in the heart of the Delaware Basin,” said Delek Logistics general partner CEO Uzi Yemin.

According to the company’s chief after the acquisition, “[Delek is] witnessing significant growth in our existing Permian gathering system. This level of growth and demand from producers provides us with confidence to move forward with this transaction.”

The Israeli-based Delek Group has been quite active in the United States, including co-sponsoring the Wink-to-Webster pipeline system.

Houston-based Vertex Energy Inc. (NASDAQ:VTNR) recently completed the acquisition of a 90,000 barrels-per-day refinery in Mobile, Alabama from Shell. Originally announced in June of 2021, the deal was finally completed, having Vertex pay out $75 million in cash, plus the value of the hydrocarbon inventory, as well as approximately $25 million related to specified capital expenditures and other closing adjustments. In the end, Shell said it received $165 million for value attributed to hydrocarbon inventory at the time of closing. The total final amount is expected to be between $150-175 million.

“As we look out to the remainder of 2022, we expect refined product margins on conventional fuels production at the Mobile refinery to remain at elevated levels, given strong regional demand conditions, while our legacy assets continue to benefit from favorable product spreads,” said Vertex President and CEO Benjamin P. Cowart. “Entering 2023, we intend to layer on the financial benefit of renewable diesel fuel production which, given current commodity prices and credit values, will position us to deliver significant value to our shareholders.”

Analysts at Piper Sandler have recently upgraded their ratings and price target for ChampionX Corporation (NASDAQ:CHX), which specializes in helping companies drill for and produce oil and gas safely and efficiently.

Last December, the company expanded its decarbonization portfolio by acquiring Tomson Technologies LLC and Group 2 Technologies LLC, leaders in nano technology platforms with proven commercial applications for helping energy companies lower the carbon footprint and operating expenses of their oil and gas production operations.

“We remain fully committed to helping decarbonize oil and gas operations through impactful technology solutions while also enabling customers to maximize the value of their producing assets,” said Sivasankaran “Soma” Somasundaram, President and CEO of ChampionX. “The acquisition of Tomson Technologies and Group 2 Technologies adds to our suite of technologies that help our customers reduce their carbon footprint and represents another step forward on the path toward our long-term strategic priority of evolving our portfolio for sustained growth as the energy industry evolves.”

Analysts at both Piper Sandler and Morgan Stanley maintained their rating for energy services company NexTier Oilfield Solutions Inc. (NYSE:NEX), but each also raised their price targets. The company provides well completion and production services. The company is coming off a strong 2021, having finished up the year with total revenue of $1.4 billion.

"As we look ahead to 2022, we expect the pace of market recovery to remain positive and we are well-positioned to capitalize on near-term cyclical recovery," said Robert Drummond, President and CEO of NexTier. "Commodity prices are giving our customers confidence to increase consumption of our services in a market where the utilization of available frac equipment is already high. It is important to note that capital constraints, combined with lengthening lead times for new equipment, limit the frac service providers' ability to respond with additional supply."

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